IT’s the final round of matches before the second international break and there is much to discuss in PREMIER LEAGUE WEEKLY. There is a humdinger of a game at Stamford Bridge and England’s golden boy will look to continue his scoring streak.
Is Kane the natural heir to Shearer?
AFTER his hat-trick against APOEL Nicosia in the Champions League in midweek, Harry Kane was earning comparisons with the goalscoring feats of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Now the Tottenham striker is an absolutely super player and his record of 37 goals in 32 games for club and country in 2017 is phenomenal. But before we start comparing him to two of the world’s greatest ever players, we should look closer to home.
When the Premier League was founded 25 years ago, all the attention centred on the league’s most expensive player, Alan Shearer. Newly promoted Blackburn had shelled out a whopping £3.5 million to sign this young English striker from Southampton and he responded by scoring goal after goal. Match of the Day would not be complete on a Saturday night without a Shearer special. He managed all types of goals, left-foot, right-foot, headers, tap-ins, free-kicks, penalties, screamers. He scored them all.
England and the Premier League have had many fine strikers since Shearer was in his pomp at Blackburn, but there is something about Kane that draws the comparisons. The Tottenham striker did not appear destined for great things when he spent time on loan at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester and it took time for him to breakthrough at White Hart Lane. But since then, his impact has been incredible and like Shearer, he scores that same wide range of goals.
Kane has been the Golden Boot winner for the last two seasons, and if he wins it again this year, he will match Shearer’s record between 1994 and 1997. His emergence has been the catalyst for Spurs becoming a credible title threat and he is the beacon of hope for England fans at the World Cup in Russia next summer. It feels like Kane scores in every match and there is a confidence from himself, team-mates and spectators that he will do so. Still only 24, he is driven to improve and has an insatiable desire for goals and whether he likes it or not, he has now become the homegrown poster boy of Premier League football.
Can Chelsea manage a second statement victory of the week?
CHELSEA suffered a temporary absence from the Champions League last season, but they announced their return in the grand manner on Wednesday night. To come from behind to win away at Atletico Madrid was a real statement of intent from Antonio Conte’s team. They showed they are ready to resume their place as one of European football’s modern powerhouses after taking time away to rebuild and come back stronger.
The question mark over Conte heading into the season was whether he could balance his team for the dual challenges of the Premier League and the Champions League. Beating Atletico – finalists in 2014 and 2016 – on their own patch was a wonderful answer to that, but there is little time to reflect on that success with another huge game to come.
If Chelsea are to retain their Premier League title, they somehow have to find a way past both Manchester clubs, which appears an enormous task given how both of those sides have started the season. But they welcome City to Stamford Bridge tomorrow evening and would love to inflict a first defeat upon Pep Guardiola’s league leaders. After the shock of that opening day loss to Burnley, things are starting to click for the West London outfit. The departure of Diego Costa has now been sorted out, his replacement Alvaro Morata has settled in nicely and Eden Hazard is back from injury. Now Conte and Co. can show that a two-team title fight is really a three-way battle.
Player of the Day:
MANCHESTER CITY have suffered a double whammy on the injury front this week with news that both Benjamin Mendy and Sergio Aguero have picked up serious problems. Aguero’s absence has grabbed the headlines as he was involved in a car crash in Amsterdam, which fractured his rib, but that will heal faster than Mendy’s anterior cruciate ligament. It is a huge blow for the Frenchman, who has made such a bright impression in his first few weeks in England.
But football is a game of fortune and opportunity, both good and bad, and suddenly the spotlight falls on FABIAN DELPH. The English midfielder has effectively drifted into the background in his two years in Manchester and has never managed a consistent run in the City team. Now, he may have that chance, albeit in an unfamiliar role at left-back. With the right-footed Danilo the only cover for both full-back positions, Delph’s left-foot is his secret weapon, and Pep Guardiola has recognised this following his summer overhaul at right and left back.
Delph scored a fine goal last week against Crystal Palace (with his wrong foot), had a good performance against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League and received a surprise recall to Gareth Southgate’s England squad, so he can’t have had too many better weeks since he moved to Manchester from Aston Villa in July 2015. Observers would argue that he is lucky to be back in the international fold, but that is not his problem and probably says much more about England’s current options.
Delph would admit that left-back is not his first-choice position but he is not in a position to be picky. This is his big opportunity at City and he has to make the most of it by playing well and staying fit and healthy, starting away to Chelsea. There is a long time to wait until January before Guardiola can bring in any reinforcements, so the ball is in Delph’s court. If things don’t go right from here for him, he can’t say he has not had his chance.
Stat of the Day:
10 – CRYSTAL PALACE travel to Manchester United tomorrow, having lost on their last ten league visits to Old Trafford, dating back to December 1989. So, the omens are not good for Roy Hodgson as the Eagles go in search of a first point and first goal of this season. Back then, Mark Bright scored twice to secure a 2-1 win that left Sir Alex Ferguson’s team languishing in 12th.
Adam’s Saturday Scores:
Huddersfield 0 Tottenham 3
Bournemouth 1 Leicester 1
Manchester United 4 Crystal Palace 0
Stoke 0 Southampton 0
West Brom 2 Watford 1
West Ham 2 Swansea 0
Chelsea 1 Manchester City 1